Wednesday, April 22, 2009

113th Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon. This is the BIG SHOW when it comes to the marathon. There is no more significant one day event in the world. Why? It takes place on a Monday. What kind of race takes place on a Monday that isn't a real holiday? Boston says "f that, we'll make up a holiday." The entire city, and for that matter the little towns and villages from Hopkinton, to Wellesley, to Newton and Chestnut Hill rally around this spectacular moving event.

It's also a marathon that you must qualify for in order to gain entry*. You know (just about) everyone there is there based on merit.

But more than any of those, the marathon is truly an everyman's event. We toe the line with some of the greatest marathoners in the world and run the same exact course as they do. People don't just get to play in the World Series or at the Masters.

So how did everyone do? Well, some of us were pleased and some were less than pleased, but everyone came out of it okay and are still standing to tell their tale. This will be a somewhat long post with little race recaps that I've heard to share:

Ben Ingram: I remember when Ben started running with us. He had just moved to Baltimore and raced a 16:57 5k at MCVETs. He finished 3rd. I still have the card that Jim gave me with Ben's info on it. Ben whipped himself into darn good shape by that September, when we went to PDR. He ran 1:11:43, and I thought that was about the sickest thing I'd ever seen. Later that fall, he went on to run NYC in 2:37:09. He went out in 1:14:42 or something and, well, didn't have an rmcgrath-style breakdown, but came back significantly slower. Still it was an awesome job.

After that marathon he fell out of shape a little bit. His 2008 Club Challenge was an indication of that lack of fitness, but he pulled himself back for Cherry Blossom. His PDR was a bit slower than 2007, but he was really ramping up and had a great Baltimore Half. It was at this point he really made the play for Boston. Motivated by Jake's use of and success with some of the training models, Ben set up his training based on the attempt at 2:30.

Over the next few months - which featured the most miserable weather I've seen since I've lived here - Ben transformed from a solid runner to an amazing marathoner. To stay motivated and healthy for 24 weeks is really hard, and relying on one day's effort to define whether something worked is a huge gamble. But it worked out in the end, with Ben finishing in 2:32:35 on Monday, good enough for 71st place overall. He went out in about the same half time as he did at NYC, but held on strong through the Newton Hills and in spite of the biting wind. For this effort, Ben earns a well-deserved Purple Drink Athlete of the Week. Interesting note: Ben finished 72nd at NYC with a 2:37, and 71st at Boston with a time nearly 5 minutes faster.

Collin Anderson: We all know Collin to be a crazy ultra runner, but he's proven to be quite quick in some of the shorter distances. He's been primed for a big PR for a while, and has been showing steady improvement that indicated Boston would be it. He raced an unbelievably even race and ran smart from the gun, resulting in a 5 minute PR. He finished in 2:53 and knows there's still room for improvement.

Mike Zero: When Z started running with us he was a near 3:20 marathoner in his couple of attempts. At his NYC 2007 he pulled out what looked to be an effortless 3:02. Then last year it was go big or go home time, and he made the decision to make 2009 his year. He signed up for a ton of huge races, including Boston and Ironman Arizona, and has been taking his training seriously. His first goal was to finally break 18 for a 5k. Check, with a 17:17 at Shamrock. Next up, sub 60min 10 miler. Check, with a 59:14 at Cherry Blossom. Third goal was for a sub 2:55 at Boston, and along the way he wanted to lower his half marathon PR. His first half was 1:24:47 or something, and that was in fact a PR. He held on for a solid second half and finished in 2:55:14. While he was 15 seconds away from his goal time, he's still a 2:55 marathon and given the gnarly headwind that existed for 26.2 miles, I'll spot him 15 seconds for his next time out.

David Ploskonka: Another crazy ultra guy who has shown some quickness on our runs, and while he was just off his PR, he ran a great race and anyone who can do back to back marathons is okay in my book.

Arjun Arjundar: Arjun's one marathon experience was pretty crappy. He was definitely in shape for a good effort at Baltimore 2007, but his day was ended by a collapse after mile 20. He picked himself up and finished in 3:07, which earned him the Trail of Tears award at that year's Awards Night. With no marathons in sight, he was peer-pressured into doing Boston this year since most of us were doing it. He trained well for the event, and his lead up races indicated that he was primed for a great day. But we all know that marathons, and Boston in particular, are different beasts. He was running the exact splits he wanted for well beyond the first half, but then was taken down a peg. While I know he was more than disappointed with his result, he at least showed improvement and for that I'm proud.

Spence Green: Spence came into this event on the heels of a 3:01 qualifying time. This was a huge PR for the guy who was running around 1:30-1:35 for half marathons when we first met him. His move to Palo Alto has proven to heel his free/running time, so his training wasn't quite where he hoped it would be, and he said before the race he would have just been pleased to run near his qualifying time. He outdid himself, breaking 3 and having a great race.

Mary Bertram: Mary is a rising star, and if her 2:58 and 53rd place finish are any indication, she'll be in the low 2:50s soon. Great job Mary!

John Blatz: I didn't talk to John about his pre-race goals, so I don't know how he feels about this race, but I'm proud of him. He looked strong early in the race as he did late.

Scott Boylan: Scott ran with us the one Monday night, and is still in the process of moving his family from ATL to Baltimore. Therefore most of you don't know him, but he's a cool dude and he is doing IM Louisville so I hope things go well for him en route.

Molly Hyde: Molly ran for us at Club Challenge and from the looks of her race she ran a strong first half and slowed up a little on the 2nd half - but who didn't, right? Nevertheless it was a solid performance!

Megan McNew: Despite racing for RASAC at Club Challenge, Megan runs with us at Fed Hill from time to time, and I'm sure we can have her race for us at events other than CC!

Jen Koshy: Jen was the only person who said she had fun, which reflects her moniker as Fun Jen. Living up to her nom de guerre, she managed to run a strong race despite not starting to run again until January.

Claire Lears: Claire had a rough day, and that was too bad because following her Cherry Blossom PR, she was certainly expecting a solid day. She overcame a number of setbacks, and when she realized her day was over, she did the smart and honorable thing to make it to the finish line.

Ultimately no matter how good or bad you feel about your performance, you proved that you are competitors, and to me that means a lot.


Ben said...

ryan - i just want to say that thanks for everything. i know that without the support of this group I wouldn't be running as well as I am - or maybe even at all. You should feel very proud of TWSS - you have created something awesome.

RM said...

Thanks Ben! But the credit for awesomeness lies in the inherent awesome nature of the members. TWSS is like a sorority, and we don't just give out snap bids. We have to recruit the right people. And by right people, I mean white people.